Charles Sawyer's Homeboy* Page [* homeboy - (colloquialism, especially Southern) a form of address indicating an acquaintance extending back to one's place of birth] Send mail to Charles Sawyer at     All Material copyright © Charles Sawyer, 1997
Quo Vadis? You Can Get There From Here!

Reviews of Ken Burns Jazz


The Legacy Of B.B. King How will history remember this great artist? Will he join the pantheon of America's greatest artists? How many gigs has he played in his lifetime?

The B.B. King Photo Gallery

The Arrival Of B.B. King. An Author's Odyssey. How the biography was published after 53 rejections.


Harpers Bazaar

Visit the harmonica gods
The Blues Gallery


Sudek, Czech Romantic A critical account of the photography Josef Sudek, master photographer of Prague. Photographs of and by the great artist.
My Career As A Certified Spy What it's like to play cat and mouse with the secret police in Eastern Europe during the Cold War.


Blues With A Feeling, A Biography Of The Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

A Proposal for a book I will never write.
First Person Singular. The Author's Statement.

People speak about having skeletons in their closet. I have voices in my basement store room. They call to me from the file drawers and storage bins that hold the remnants of countless creative projects. They are the voices of my abandoned ambitions. During one period of my life I had no family responsibilities and sufficient means to indulge my creative impulses, and so my artistic ambitions had no competition for my time and energy. I travelled and I wrote — articles, reviews, and books, including three biographies, a novel and two extended travel logs. I photographed. Black and white, reportage and purely aesthetic pictures. My subjects ranged from the intellectual life of Eastern Europe, to life at all levels in Israel; from Yankee culture to African American music; from the tanning vats in Fez, Morroco, to the rodeo chutes of the Calgary Stampede.

Some of this work was published in places like Harper's, The Nation, and The Christian Science Monitor. One book-length work made it into print. My biography of B.B. King, The Arrival of B.B. King, was published by Doubleday in 1980 in hardback and in paperback by Da Capo Press in 1982. It remained in print until 2000 and can be purchased, used, on

In 1981 I turned my attention to writing screenplays. By then I had acquired a primary responsibility, a wife, Bistra Lankova, who agreed to share my fortunes and became my writing partner. After three years' all-consuming work we had completed three screenplays and a handful of film treaments. In 1984 we were recognized by the Writers' Guild of America as among the most promising unproduced screenwriters and awarded a fellowship. While we waited for that recognition to turn into offers and options on our scripts I studied computer programming. What began as a hedge against the vagaries of a writer's career became a new career as a software engineer. Thanks to Bistra in 1986 I began again to play blues music. [For details on my blues band go to 2120 South Michigan Avenue] Tragically, Bistra died in an auto accident in November, 1988. We were working on a documentary video about her life and her family at the time (another ambitious, unfinished work).

1991 was a memorable year. Cherie Hoyt, who was my main source of sanity in the tough time after November, 1988, and I decided to start a family. We bought a house, and got pregnant, and I turned 50, and we got married—in that order!

Sam was born January 11, 1992.

To me, this is the revolution of the world wide web, that an artist or an author, equipped with a scanner can present his/her works to the world without the aide of a publisher or producer. Until now that room in my cellar was a place I entered only with some anxiety; it was a mausoleum to my ambitions. Maybe, if I bring them to life gradually they may find a healthy expression.

This first installment is devoted to writings and photographs on music. Later, perhaps one of those biographies might appear here in excerpt or even whole. Then, hmmmm, the novel? No, the photographs. No, the screenplays.

Excuse me,

while I go down


There are other spirits living down here, too. This is my great, great grandfather, William Pierce, age 96. He was born in 1799, two years after John Adams was elected the second President of the United States and one year before President Adams moved into the just completed White House. When the Civil War began Pierce was 62. He sent this photograph, taken in 1895, to my grandfather, William Sawyer, so that William could know his grandfather. I found the photograph among my father's belongings years after my father, Murray Sawyer, died in Hanover, N.H., in 1982.